Mother’s Day Hangover

Have I told you that I hate Mother’s Day? Yes, yes I have. In last year, and the year before that, and probably the year before that, but I can’t find it.


Several of my favorite people despise Mother’s Day, too. Absence of Alternatives has an annual rant against the holiday, and at least one friend calls annually to bemoan the day’s failure to meet expectations and the shame of what she actually expects (some time to herself).

I’m lucky enough to live near my mother and grandma. And I’m honored to be able to appreciate them on Mother’s Day. I like seeing them, cooking them their favorite foods, and finding them the perfect gift. I genuinely love being able to have Mother’s Day with my mom and grandma. So I’m not a complete jerk. In fact, I never hated the holiday we just choked down until I had a child.

And then reality hit.

Here’s the thing: the social myth is that your family will roll out the red carpet and honor you with gratitude and relaxation. Cue reels of breakfast in bed and luxurious lolling about in high-thread count sheets with precocious and adorable children who appreciate you. There are at least five things wrong with that sentence, including the fact that it only focuses on the minutes from 6:45-6:50 a.m.

What happens with the other 780 minutes of the day? A mythological and delightful dance of people throwing rose petals before you as they continually tell you to sit down so they can perform tasks both large and small for you?

Please. It’s the same day as every other day, but with an emailed discount coupon for pizza.

Pamper mom? Please. What’s my family going to do? Make a meal or two (or three), clean the house, manage their own fecal needs, let me read, and give me enough space for a run and a shower? No, Internet. They’re not. None of that.

Show mom you care? Maybe when they’re older. I don’t dare hope that they try to make the day feel special by offering sweet greetings or making precious presents and cards rather than bickering and screaming and ignoring me unless they want something. Bah. Humbug.

I’ve tried asking for what I need and I’ve tried moderating expectations. But this Mother’s Day was, as it has been for seven years, depressingly underwhelming. What I want is a break from the delightful, wonderful people who made me a mom. Because they are ALWAYS up in my space. Being cute and needy and snuggly and terrible and amazing and mean. Wanting a break for Mother’s Day sounds just terrible. Cruel and ungrateful. But what is also terrible is a day that looks absolutely indistinguishable from others, except that total strangers wished me a Happy Mother’s Day. Though that was actually quite nice.

So, out with it: I’m ungrateful. I don’t know how lucky I am. I don’t deserve the healthy, happy children and attenuating loveliness. I certainly don’t deserve a few minutes to breathe and think. What right have I? But, wait, the commercials say I do.

Mother’s Day makes me bipolar.

Thanks for all the meaningless signs at the supermarket and the freaking newsstand, Holiday Fabricated to Make Me Notice What Is Missing. I’ve let you leave me feeling disappointed, unworthy, unappreciated, and exhausted.

Can’t imagine why I don’t want to see you again next year when you raise your annoying, smarmy, fake smile-y face again.

Maybe if I spend the next 364 days appreciating my mom and grandma, I can sleep through Mother’s Day next year.

10 thoughts on “Mother’s Day Hangover

  1. As I was reading this post, I was thinking about what it would take for a small child to feel real gratitude for his mother in a Mother’s Day kind of way. I think the problem may be they just don’t realize what a precious gift you are in their lives. Sure, they know that things like playtime privileges or a favorite dessert might be taken away from them, but have they realized that Mommy might not be there one day? I vividly remember the middle-of-the-night screaming terror that descended upon me as a child when I realized my parents might actually die someday. (They haven’t yet.) That was even worse than the terror that they might divorce someday. (They did, but not until I was an adult. I got over it.) If they treat you like they take you for granted, they probably do. But the plus side of that is that you’ve managed to provide them a life that allows them to hold onto their childhood innocence for a while longer.

  2. Same here. I wrote about this very thing, and then my dad told me he read an article somewhere about how the majority of moms (well, probably stay at home moms of young kids anyway) want to be NOT MOMS for mother’s day. Which seems really wrong and not in the spirit of the holiday, but you said it all in your post. They need too much, want too much of you, and so if anyone asks what it is you want to do for Mother’s Day (or your birthday), the truthful answer will always be to get away from those children you love so very much.

    I hope you get your day–or even a few hours–off soon. And then you can just call that Mother’s Day.

  3. I don’t know… kids don’t typically have appreciation for these sorts of holidays. It’s really up to the partner (dad in our cases) to make the day special. My hubby doesn’t let me do anything domestic on Mother’s Day. And if I want to spend my day alone, my wish is his command. This Mother’s Day, we went to a graduation party, and he chased the kids for three hours while I sat and talked. (The conversation wasn’t all that great, but at least I could concentrate on it instead of being interrupted every 30 seconds.) Maybe a heart-to-heart with your partner about the day would be worthwhile? I’m not trying to be critical; I just think that, despite the Hallmark-iness of the day, it should still be observed. Mom’s deserve a day of rest and relaxation. It’s up to the partner to provide it until the kids grow up and get a clue.

  4. Oh sweetie, you’re an amazing, dedicated, loving, overworked mom and if what YOU want on mother’s day is some time to yourself, then it certainly could be arranged! Suggest showing this blog post to organizers before they begin planning next year’s events. xo

  5. I love my kids. I love being with my kids. They are my treasures.
    And there is such a thing as an embarrassment of riches.
    The perfect mother’s day would be for my family to go on vacation without me. Just for one day.

  6. @Matt You’re absolutely right. I don’t expect them to be grateful. I just wish they’d stop fighting (and pooping) for a day. I’m sorry you had that panic about your parents. I’m sure I did, too, but I don’t remember. I hope my kids don’t get there.

    @Kristin What a brilliant idea to just plan a day off and call it Mother’s Day. That way my elders are honored and I see a light at the end of the tunnel. Maybe this Sunday…

    @Fie I agree. Seems that the message isn’t landing, though. I’m going to have to change my approach.

    @CK if only that would work. I’m going to have to either change the national observance to Mom’s Day Away Day or I’m going to have to use Kristin’s idea of a fake, second, hidden Mother’s Day where I run away and don’t tell anyone it’s called Mother’s Day.

    @Kitch I’m sorry that I laughed as hard as I did at that one. That, right there, is children in a nutshell. “Why isn’t there kids day?” Oh, to be young and have the world revolve around you but not know it revolves around you…

    @j we’re gonna declare it National Mom’s Day Off Day for next year. You’re closest to D.C. Make it happen.

    @Heather WORD.

  7. I really think that the length the family takes to “celebrate” this day depends on the other adult in the house who is not the mom (cough cough). I got a t-shirt and we went to see The Avengers. I dared to let it slip the other day “We never celebrate any holiday any more” and was reminded of the “celebrations” and called “ungrateful”. Sometimes I wish that they really really did not do one iota. At least I would be left alone in wallowing in my bitterness without being accused of being ungrateful.

  8. Pingback: Mother’s Day: A New Perspective | Naptime Writing

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